Back when I had disposable income, I bestowed gifts upon people as a regular way of life. For birthdays, holidays, or just simply for gratitude. If they were basketball fans, it was very easy for me to find something for them to like. And being a sport whose regular season starts in late fall and arguably peaks on Christmas Day, there’s a natural rhythm to their making a big marketing push for overly generous sorts like moi.
For the past six years, the NBA has been especially prolific at going after their share of merch dollars by regularly introducing City Edition uniforms. As soon as Nike became the league’s uni manufacturer, they borrowed a page from college football (particularly their hometown Oregon Ducks) and introduced a new alternate uniform regularly. The Ducks have a different combination every single game; the City Edition is a tad less ambitious but nevertheless has developed a big following and is now a milestone event for the holiday season. Per Victoria Hernandez in yesterday’s USA Today:
Since 2017, the NBA and Nike have teamed up to release City Edition jerseys for teams across the league. The idea was to celebrate the unique heritage of each city and connect with each fanbase on a more personal level.
The jerseys have been a hit and have boosted merchandise sales across the league. Now entering its sixth campaign, there has been much anticipation over what the City Edition jerseys will look like for each franchise. Popular designs in the past have included the Los Angeles Lakers paying tribute to Kobe Bryant with a snakeskin pattern and the Miami Heat’s extremely popular Vice series.
On Thursday, all of the City Edition jerseys for the 2022-23 season were released. Some of them were revealed a while ago, such as the Washington Wizards, who this spring released their ode to the area’s cherry blossoms. Others, such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons, revealed their own tributes to local basketball mainstays.
Many of the storylines connected with each team’s choices are parochial, personal and surprising. The Pistons’ incorportation of green, not one of their actual team colors, is a salute to a local gym, St. Cecilia’s, where Michigan greats of the past like Jalen Rose and Isiah Thomas played as youngsters.
The Portland Trail Blazers, a team known for red and black, are rocking a teal-and-black salute to the carpeting at the Portland airport, using the PDX airport code on that jersey. I’ve trod that very carpet many times recently, so I’m jazzed about maybe adding something like that to my array.
The USA Today article ranks the 29 jerseys newly released, many of which will debut this weekend, on a parochial basis. The Miami Heat’s “Mixtape 2.0”, pictured at the top of this post, which updates a controversial choice from last year that intermixed various colors and wordmarks from the team’s history into what many snarkers believed looked like a ransom note, was ranked next-to-last.
One of the cited reasons is that it is perceived to fall far short of the Vice Squad jersey, the very one I chose to wear when I got my crucial second COVID booster shot and was “allowed” to re-enter society at a most necessary time. I would not be alive were it not for the love and friendship of Heat fans and Florida natives, so I felt it was appropriate for me to have it on at that moment.
But we all know marketing ploys like this ply on emotional impulse purchases. Frankly, I don’t care what Ms. Hernandez likes. I like Miami and Portland. No, I can’t afford either team’s new editions on my own this year.
But maybe someone will be inspired to buy ME a holiday gift? 🙂